Steve Bruce, ashen-faced afterwards and clearly ready for a break after a traumatic six months, will nearly certainly have to rebuild in their third and final year of parachute payments. Of Villa's starters, seven were over the age of 30, Fulham had just one.
Fulham were last in the Premier League in 2013-14 where they were relegated alongside Norwich and Cardiff.
Despite their superior experience, Aston Villa succumbed to defeat.
Tom Cairney's first-half goal in the 23' was a deciding one for Fulham.
The Left-Back - on loan at Craven Cottage from Southampton since January - played his part in the game over the 90 minutes and the Cottagers would run out deserving winners overall. In fact, it has come to be expected. Villa pressured constantly with the man advantage, but couldn't get a clear shot at Marcus Bettinelli's goal.
Gareth Southgate might rue the decision to not take him to Russian Federation given the ease with which he dealt with the occasion. I got a feeling that they wouldn't score and it would be our year.
Initially, it looked like an innocuous passage of play.
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Ryan Fredericks was lucky not be sent off for what Bruce claimed was a "deliberate" stamp on his playmaker.
Aged 37, even if he remains with them and they secure promotion in 12 months' time, a further year at the highest level will by then most likely be beyond him. It was a moment of madness from the Fulham full-back, plain and simple. "But when it is as deliberate as that, he deserves a red card".
Villa failed to heed that warning and Fulham fulfilled their manager's prediction as they took the lead in the 23rd minute. The form of Slavisa Jokanovic's team during the second half of the season perhaps made them the strongest in the Championship, and their expansive, attacking football means they have numerous admirers.
Jack Grealish sparked a melee following a tough tackle on Tom Cairney.
All three clubs will be looking to shake up their squads following their relegation to the second tier and Grealish has flourished for Villa in the Championship.
Jokanovic will expect to agree a permanent deal with Newcastle for his countryman for starters and will also hope Ryan Sessegnon - "I prefer to stay with him and what I know is that the kid wants to stay too", he said - is induced to stay another year before his inevitable progression to a Champions League club.
In the end, the London outfit managed to see out the rest of the clash to secure their spot in the Premier League.